Frank Kozik, Offspring, Melvins Cover Artist, Dies at 61

Kozik also designed concert posters for Soundgarden, Neil Young, Nirvana, Bad Religion and many more

Photo (Kozik): Puma Lab

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 10, 2023

Frank Kozik — the Spanish-born American graphic artist who created memorable album covers for the Offspring, Queens of the Stone Age, Melvins and more — has died. The artist's May 6 passing was confirmed by Sharon Kozik, his wife, in a statement shared yesterday. A cause of death was not revealed. He was 61.

"Frank was a man larger than himself, an icon in each genre he worked in," Sharon Kozik's statement reads. "He dramatically changed the industry he was a part of. He was a creative force of nature. We are so beyond lucky and honoured to have been part of his journey, and he will be missed beyond what words could ever express. He loved his wife, his cats, classic muscle cars, mentoring others, and Disneyland. His forceful presence will be missed by all who knew him. His legacy, like all great masters, will live on through his art and our memories of him."

One of Kozik's most recognizable works is the illustration covering the Offspring's fifth album, 1998's Americana, which shows a boy on a swing holding a sand flea towards an outreached tentacle.

Speaking with the San Francisco Chronicle that year, frontman Dexter Holland shared of Kozik's art, "I knew his work from his concert posters, and it had all the connotations we associated with Americana: very glossy, innocent and 1950s, but with a twisted aspect." 

Kozik also created illustrations for each of the album's single releases, and before Americana arrived, a version of his cover design also fronted the artist's 1996 book Man's Ruin: The Posters & Art of Frank Kozik. A similar approach was taken by the artist earlier in the decade for the cover of Melvins' 1993 LP Houdini, featuring two children playing with a two-headed dog. 

Kozik is also behind the cover art of the initial vinyl editions of Queens of the Stone Age's 1998 self-titled debut, which arrived via his own Man's Ruin Records. While first CD copies and subsequent vinyl pressings would use the photograph of a model's midsection, Kozik's original cover artwork — featuring a topless woman posing with a motorcycle — was once again used as part of the album's vinyl reissue last year.

Born in Madrid, Kozik came to the United States in 1976, and joined the US Air Force at age 18. Stationed in Austin, TX, he would settle in the city after leaving the military, discovering the local music scene through working the door at an area nightclub and creating concert posters for the featured bands.

Kozik's style — which he attributed to his "dark sense of humour" and punk upbringing — would lead to further concert poster commissions from the likes of Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Bad Religion, Mötley Crüe, Helmet, the White Stripes, Beastie Boys and many more.

"I'm also a big fan of ambiguity, so I think where my stuff resonated was in that I was able to step outside that box a little, and instead of being persistently negative, I was able to turn it on its head a little bit, to make fun of itself," he explained in 2018 interview. "I hit on a formula early where, if it was a massively evil band, I'll do something that's insanely cute, and that'd make it weird. Conversely, if it's something more normal, I'd insert some secret dark element. That was always for personal amusement, but it turned out that if I thought it was interesting, so did X amount of other people."

Kozik established Man's Ruin Records in San Francisco, CA, in the mid-'90s, and folded the label at the turn of the millennium in turning his focus to fine art. Kozik also served as the chief creative officer of designer art toy company Kidrobot.

"I was part of the trash world. I was a no-education loser person, and was definitely into hedonistic experiences," he shared of his upbringing. "While I have an appreciation of fine art and I understand it, I was going to punk rock shows, not college nor museums. All of the stuff that really turned my crank was that stuff, and it was all stuff that we could kind of reproduce in our own lives; we could get a shitty car and drive around real fast, and we could hang out with fun people and party… and a lot of that stuff is really visually arresting. It's all power imagery, and it really gets basic impulses across: sex, drugs, violence, weird shit."

A post shared by Frank Kozik (@frankkozik)

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